Reflections from a reporter born in 1987

Know the foe: Baltimore Ravens

August 20, 2010 - 11:30 AM
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Oh, yeah, and Jim Zorn (left) makes his return to FedEx Field as well (Photo: Associated Press)

Throughout the season, we'll be taking a closer look at the Redskins' opponents each week in our "Know the Foe" series. These previews will be more expansive in the regular season, but in the spirit of getting in game shape, we'll be rolling one out for each of the four preseason games as well.

Follow us below the jump to find all you need to know.

Washington Redskins vs. Baltimore Ravens

Date: Saturday, August 21. Time: 7:00 p.m. Place: FedEx Field

TV: NBC-4/Comcast SportsNet Radio: WTEM 980

Line: Redskins by 3.

Didn't you promise you'd stop gambling on preseason games? Maybe.

Confirmed to be on the shelf: Redskins- WR Malcolm Kelly (hamstring). Ravens- OT Jared Gaither (back spasms).

Status Uncertain: Redskins- DT Albert Haynesworth (headaches). Ravens-OT Oniel Cousins (headaches), CB Chris Carr (hamstring).

About Baltimore: The Ravens could have considered themselves slightly unlucky last season. Yes, they made the playoffs as a wild-card team with a 9-7 record, but four of their seven losses were by three points or fewer. But they still made the NFL take notice of their ability with a dominating 33-14 victory at New England in their Wild Card round playoff game, a scoreline that flattered the Patriots. This year with the acquisition of WR Anquan Boldin, the Ravens are a dark horse in the race for the AFC title.

The Ravens are lead by third-year coach John Harbaugh, who has taken the team to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, only to come up against the eventual AFC champions on both occasions (the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008, and the Indianapolis Colts in 2009).

The Ravens will rise and fall this autumn on the arm of Joe Flacco. The quarterback, also entering his third year, was widely regarded as a weak point in a Ravens attack that finished fifth in the league in rushing yardage (137.5 yards per game), but only 18th in passing yardage (213.7 yards per game). With the acquisitions of Boldin, as well as Donte Stallworth, many expect the Delaware alum to make the leap to be an elite quarterback this season. In addition, Ray Rice will be looking for an encore performance after rushing for 1,339 yards last season, including a 159-yard performance in the playoff win over New England.

The Baltimore defense was as stout as ever last season, led by old standbys Ray Lewis at linebacker and Ed Reed at safety and relative newcomer Haloti Ngata at defensive tackle. They were third in the NFL in total defense (300.5 yards per game), but a few questions have been asked about their age this season. In particular, Ed Reed was placed on the active/physically to perform list as he's struggled to come back from hip surgery.

What to watch and who to watch for: The Flacco/Boldin combination will be the major talking point of the night, with both sets of starting units expected to play the majority of the first half. Also, keep an eye on Baltimore's talented linebacking corps, which features not only veterans Lewis and Terrell Suggs, but talented youngsters like Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain



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